Velikiy Ustyug to St. Petersburg Russia

Well, here is my last Russia blog. So let’s look at the map!

We took an overnight train from Yaroslavl to Velikiy Ustyug about 13 hours, spent over night in Velikiy Ustyug then a 24 hour train to St.Petersburg. I’ve taken overnight trains in Canada, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Russian one was one of my favourite, very comfortable ride with opportunities to get off for a bit at some stops.

Always buy something off the carriage attendant. They have quotas to sell stuff, a cup of tea is about .70 cents Canadian, and you’ll end up in their good books!

One of the stops in a small town, these old women will be standing outside the train to sell food. From cooked beef, chicken, potatoes to bags of apples, garlic, pickles, chips etc. I bought some beef and potatoes. It was a funny experience, some women really grab at you to sell.

The Russian McDonalds! Had a cup of coffee with cottage cheese pancakes with a side of sour cream.

Here in Velikiy Ustyug is the home of Grandfather Frost. There’s a whole village set up of his home, where you go through all these games and fairy tale characters to reach his house. Then you tour all the rooms of his house before finally meeting him. It’s really for children, and random tourists lol. Funny experience, it was -38 that day, wasn’t dressed the best for that.

We spent an afternoon in a little 4 house village. We drove about 40 minutes on a winter road in this bus that got stuck once. We met a family that lived there, she fed us, showed us around and we spent a couple hours sliding on tubes.

The woman here made all her own alcohol. One of them was this birch tree vodka. It definitely put hair on my chest!

I love these strollers that are like skis on the bottom!

St.Petersburg! Very beautiful city, lots to see and do. There isn’t much English in Russia, but your best bet is to find it here. Very heavily tourist, in peak season , cruise ships dock here everyday unleashing 18,000 tourists a day! downside is the pick pocketing is a serious issue here. It only takes them seconds to get your stuff, so you really have to be on high alert.

January 6 was Christmas Eve in Russia. This is due to the old calendar system, most of us changed to Dec 25, they stayed Jan 7. So Jan 6 was midnight mass, its 8 hour mass service where you have to stand the entire time. You can come and go.

The Russian Facebook headquarters at the top of this bookstore in St.Petersburg.

My name in Russian at Starbucks…however I have since been told it’s not quite Erin lol.

We spent the Russian Christmas night at a production of The Nutcracker at St.Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre. Very beautiful, I’m always blown away by the sets and costumes.

After the ballet, we went for a Russian tea party to a very interesting house. Back in the revolution days, the poor people pushed the rich out of their homes, and occupied rooms and shared the common areas. Fast forward to present day, these rooms have been passed down through generations, and these rooms are still inhabited this way. So this apartment had 5 different rooms where 5 families live in, then they all share the kitchen, bathroom etc. The one room is quite large, then they made their own loft and have sleeping areas, living room and eating areas. This woman made up crepes and tea, sharing stories of their way of life, very interesting!

Well that was the end of Russia. Really enjoyed my tour there. We had a nice group that got along well, and my guide was wonderful. This trip I found to be a well rounded tour with many different cultural experiences. I found it the most challenging country for communication as there’s very little English, and I can’t read anything as the alphabet is different. I found people friendly towards me, and it surprised me how safe it was to be out at all hours of the night or day.

I made it to London England the other day and have been enjoying the sites and being able to communicate again lol.

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